Top 10 Tips for Tight Budgets

Orange winking piggy with hand -wb

Pay less and manage your cash to make it stretch further

From cheaper travel to smarter shopping, these canny money-saving tips could save you £££££££


1.  Get Budgeting

Decide what can afford - edited listIt’s a tool not a torture!  Budgeting isn’t just about making sacrifices, it’s to help you organise your money and avoid getting into debt. Use a Budget Planner to track your income and outgoings, so you can set aside funds for essentials like rent and bills, before spending on the fun stuff or putting away savings.

Click here for our simple guide to budgeting, or read our blog to see how talent agent Grace makes the most of her money in London.

2.  Fare Deals

Travel cheaper with a 16 – 25 Railcard, which gives you 1/3 off most rail journeys.  And if you’re clever about when you buy/renew your card, you can get the Railcard discount until you’re nearly 27!

Try Megatrain – a low cost inter city travel service, offering budget train and bus fares around the UK and Europe, from as little as a £1 each way – based on the concept of filling up empty seats.  Check here for availability and prices.

For travel promotions and days out, see National Rail – Special Offers.

NUS extra logo

3.  Eternal Students

You might be done with student life, but don’t give up the discount…
Graduates can enjoy an extra year of student discounts with the NUS extra Alumni Card. Buy here from just £12, for hundreds of money-off bargains on travel, shopping and leisure.

You can also qualify for an NUS student discount card if you enrol on an online course with eCareers.  Click here for a report on cheaper, legal ways of doing this.

4.  Special Offers

Look for local deals on everything from food to fun:
TimeOut     Wowcher      Vouchercloud

Eat out for less: Special Offers section of OpenTable.

Team up with friends and family to get group discount from Groupon.

Find more deals & vouchers, all checked by the Money Saving Expert team.

Shopping pig - orange - cropped wb

5.  Shop Smart

Shopping around for the best deals is easy with comparison sites, but do consult more than one so you get a full picture of what’s on offer.  Check out options on everything from household bills to finance, travel and entertainment, plus money-saving tips and guides on switching suppliers etc.

Money Saving Expert
uSwitch     Go Compare
Compare the Market

If you’re renting or own a home, look into the MSE free Cheap Energy Club to save on gas and electricity. They monitor your tariff and alert you when it might be time to switch suppliers.

Man with mobile phone and backpack wb

6.  Haggle over the Phone

When your mobile contract is about to end, consider whether to stay or switch to reduce the cost of your upgrade and bills.
Check your typical usage (data, texts and minutes – you can ask your phone provider), so you only pay for the plan you need.  Research comparison sites to find the best package, and then haggle with your current supplier.  They’ll be keen to keep you and will probably offer a better deal than you would get otherwise.

Click here for more ways to save on your mobile, from the Money Advice Service.

Graduate piggy - wb

7. Better Banking

Switch your Student Account to a Graduate Account to benefit from introductory perks and preferential terms for up to 3 years after graduation.
Most Graduate Accounts offer an interest-free overdraft, which can help you start reducing uni debt. Your product choice will depend on your financial situation, and you need be sure it’s still the best option once any initial incentives have finished.

Don’t be fooled by ‘freebies’.  Most banks offer standard no-frills current accounts or ‘packaged’ versions with extra features – usually for a fee.  A monthly charge covers benefits like car breakdown service, travel insurance etc.  But check if it’s cheaper to buy these extras elsewhere, or as and when you need them.

Check and cancel regular payments you no longer need (Direct Debits DDR and Standing Orders SO): Membership to the gym you keep meaning to use?  Subscription to the magazine you never read? Insurance for the TV you replaced last year?  There’s always something lurking!

8. Sell your stuff

Get rid of your clutter and make some money.
It’s worth noting that you pay fees for selling on ebay, but it’s a reputable company with protection for buyers and sellers.
Free listing sites like Gumtree don’t usually charge fees to post ads, but you’ll need to take care to protect yourself when handing over goods and getting payment.

Managing Debt

9. Deal with Debt

If you have debts on top of your student loan, clear the most expensive ones first (e.g. credit cards & store cards).  The higher the interest, the faster debt grows. So reduce debts with the highest interest rates as soon as possible (but always check lock-in clauses before paying off loans etc.)

Avoid charges. Stick within overdraft/credit limits so you don’t get hammered with hefty penalties. Register for text alerts from your bank to keep on top of your weekly balance, and large payments in and out of your current account.

Click here for more tips on managing debt.

Town house - yellow - wh bkgrd cropped

10. Savvy Savings

If you’ve got money to put away, the Help to Buy ISA is worth a look. Designed to help first-time buyers saving towards a mortgage deposit, this can be a good option even if you don’t buy a property.  It earns tax-free interest at relatively high rates, and if you do use your savings to buy a home, the Government will top up your cash with an extra 25% free bonus (up to £3,000).

Watch a 3 minute film on Help to Buy ISAs, by Virgin Money.
Or click here for all the info from GOV.UK.

For more tips on saving money

More Money-Saving Tips for Under-25’s – Money Saving Expert

Monzo’s 29 Ways to Save Money on Household Bills